In the last post we started looking at the encounter between Jesus and Peter after Peter denied Jesus three times. We talked about his intentions were not to deny Christ but he did anyway and how we are like this – we think others should be impressed with our intentions. We looked at John 21 – click here to read it.
We will continue along those lines of intentions because there is something in this encounter and that is; being sorry does not automatically restore us to service. Here is what we know, Peter was sorry for denying Christ after he did it. Obviously, God forgives us after we confess our sin and ask for cleansing. But that does not necessarily restore us to our previous place of service. We think many times that all we have to do is say we are sorry and then move right back where we were but that is not the case. Sometimes trust has to be rebuilt in order for service to be restored. Just because you say you are sorry does not mean that someone will allow you to have their complete trust – sometimes you have to earn the trust back that is broken. When we say hurtful things to people – they may forgive and may try to forget what you have said but it is hard. To get that trust you have to take time and consistently do the right things, the right way. You need to practice obedience to Christ to earn the trust back.
When people do not get returned to service right away they make the mistake out of anger or ignorance or out of heart that is not in the right place and return to their old ways in backsliding. I used the term backsliding a few times so let me just take a moment and define backsliding for you – it means turning back to the old and sinful ways. A backslider is a saved person who falls into sin. A lost sinner cannot be a backslider. You have to go somewhere before you can slide back. But one, who is truly born again, a child of God who falls into sin, is a backslider. It may be outrageous and gross sin known to everyone or it may be merely coldness of heart, a lukewarm heart instead of the burning fire of love for God that one has had in the past. But when a Christian loses any of his joy, or loses part of his sweet fellowship with God, or falls into sin, then they are a backslider. Peter by his denial of Christ backslid into his old way of thinking and then went back to fishing but Jesus as we have see was not done with him. I am reminded of what of Hosea 14:4 which says in the New King James Version; "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for my anger has turned away from him". God will heal your backsliding. If you have backslid – you have a gross sin, or grown cold toward God, or you have become lukewarm – God can and will heal it but as always you must come to Him and repent of it.
Peter backslid, he lied to people around the fire the night Jesus was being tried and denied Christ which is part of the way he used to be – even though he thought he was stronger than that and even though his intentions earlier were not to do it. After this backsliding and Jesus resurrection, Peter decided that he wanted to get away from ministry and go back to what he knew. Peter told the other disciples in John 21:3 "I am going fishing" and being a leader others followed. He went back to fishing because that is one thing that he could do and one thing he felt comfortable doing. However, as I see it, God in His sovereignty moved upon the waters and as John put it "that night they caught nothing". Peter went right back to what he knew and was comfortable doing and that was fishing but the Lord had other plans for him as well as the other disciples.
In his mind Peter, was going to be going right back to where he was before he ever met the Lord which was fishing but Jesus was calling on Peter to go back and do something for Him. The call was to return to the Lord because He is calling all of us to come to Him and look to Him and trust Him! Have you slid away from God? As I have said before – If there has been a time that you were closer to God than you are right now – God did not move! Is it time for you to get back to doing what you know you are to do. You are not to go back to the old ways but to move forward in Christ, of which He is calling you too. Christ calling you to be doing something and it is not the comfortable thing that he wants you to do but the right thing.
Have you ever found yourself in a place where you had backslid? What did you do about it?